Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Roaring Beach

On the Australia Day public holiday last week, our neighbours and their nearby family and friends took their kids and horses down to Roaring Beach, near Surveyors Bay on the Esperance Coast Road between Geeveston and Dover. I popped in briefly after collecting our new coffee table from Geeveston. We had driven down this beautiful stretch of road a few times, and once took Baerli to a small but lovely off-leash dog beach close to the Dover end. Unfortunately it was very windy last Thursday, but on a fine day it would make a perfect picnic spot. This mobile phone snap doesn't do it justice. We'll definitely go back sometime.

Note: there is another Roaring Beach, a well-known surf beach on the Tasman Peninsula.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Market day

I visited three very different markets on the weekend, all terrific. I hadn't been to Salamanca Market for ages, so I drove in on Saturday morning. I bought some seeds, some gift tags and a book. Popped into Tricycle for coffee. 'Gourmet Farmer' Matthew Evans was busy entertaining throngs of visitors in his tiny store A Common Ground tucked in under the Salamanca Arts Centre. There was a cruise ship in port and with the hot sunny weather, the area was packed.

From there I drove out to the Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) for the new Saturday afternoon MoMa (MONA market). It was quite windy and some of the stallholders were having trouble holding on to their wares. The place was packed with lovely produce. The DJ was doing a great job playing cruisy summer afternoon tunes. The Convict City Rollers roller derby chicks were showing off some moves. People lounged about on giant pink cushions on the grass. I ate some samosas and bought some organic garlic, a small gift for my Mum (can't tell you what as she hasn't received it yet), some Bruny Island goat meat and a couple of bottles of Tasmanian cider.


Then on Sunday the monthly Huon Valley Growers and Makers Market in our little town of Franklin was on, and I must say it was particularly good this month because of the abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables available. I bought some locally grown organic blueberries that are absolutely delicious. The blueberries I've had in the last few weeks have been the best I've ever tasted. I also bought a loaf of rye bread, some lovely pale green zucchini with flowers from the local Landcare group's stall and a chocolate croissant before I ran out of cash. That was probably a good thing.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Coq au vin

Meet "Goldie" a.k.a. Coq au vin. It's a bit hard to tell from this blurry mobile phone photo, but he's a handsome young Barnevelder cockerel. Goldie joins our three beautiful hens Chicken Schnitzel, Chicken Teriyaki and Chicken Tikka Masala to hopefully protect and augment our little flock. Until now, the girls have had to make do with fancy pin-up calendar boy "Mr July" in their hen house (see below).

I collected Goldie today from a family in Castle Forbes Bay, not far south from here. Of five recently hatched chicks, three were male, so they had to give some away. The children were determined that Goldie should not be eaten, so the family is happy that he's gone to a home where he can live on with his own little flock. He was advertised on Freecycle, a network for giving away stuff you don't want to people who do. It will be interesting to see what the girls think of him... he's only five months old and has some growing to do, so I hope he doesn't get pecked too much.

Saturday, January 28, 2012


Cider is the new black apparently. An article in BRW magazine last year said so. It's certainly a habit I've picked up since moving to Tasmania. When you live somewhere that produces such fantastic apples and pears, it would be a shame not to indulge. I love the Blighs cider on tap at the Red Velvet Lounge in Cygnet. It reminds me of the "Ebbelwoi" (apple wine) from the Hessen region of Germany that I stayed in in the late 1980s. Dry, slightly sour and refreshing. Today I picked up a couple of bottles of Two Metre Tall's Huon Farmhouse Dry Cider and Poire from MoMa, the new market at MONA. Delicious and perfect for a hot sunny afternoon.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Southern Design Centre

For Christmas, my mum gave us a terrific gift: a voucher to put towards having a piece of furniture made at the Southern Design Centre in Geeveston. She knows we have wanted a coffee table for ages. There's no point us having one permanently stationed exactly at tail-wagging height in front of the lounge. One swoosh of a Bernese Mountain Dog's powerful fluffy tail and there goes... well everything, really. But we'd like something other than the blanket box from the guest room to put drinks on when we have visitors. I was thinking maybe a nest of tables that we could move into place would be best.

On a visit to the Southern Design Centre on Sunday we saw some lightweight coffee tables that could be easily moved to wherever we need. They use the natural shape and pattern of the wood rather than being completely squared and sanded. We specified the size and shape we wanted and placed our order on Sunday. On Monday Dennis called to say he had a suitable piece of Tasmanian Sassafras wood available and would start work on it, yesterday he sent a photo of the completed table to my mobile phone and varnished it, today I collected it.

I love the colours and patterns in Sassafras. We were a little worried that it wouldn't fit in with our fairly modern home, but I think it looks great. The cost is very reasonable considering you get what you want. I have bought a few other things at the Southern Design Centre since moving here, including a beautifully warm and soft alpaca wool jumper. It's worth popping in if you're in the area.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

A cloud descends

It has been seriously hot and sunny for days now. Perfect summer weather. Except for last night, when a large cloud suddenly perched on top of our hill. It was so thick, we lost sight of the front paddock. Straight back to sunshine today though!

Sunday, January 22, 2012


It won fifth place in a 2004 contest to find 'the most beautiful German word'. Whatever language it is in, rhubarb is my favourite jam. Even better if it's rhubarb and ginger.

Yesterday I picked half a kilo of rhubarb from our little apple crate veggie garden; today it's jam. It tasted pretty good, now I'm just hoping it sets better than my last attempt at making jam some years ago in Sydney. I haven't made any since, preferring instead to buy what I know is good, like the lovely jams made by locals Maggy and Chris and sold at the monthly Growers and Makers Market in Franklin. My favourite of their jams is the apricot and brandy, with the gooseberry and elderflower a very close second... or is that the raspberry, or the plum or the grapefruit marmelade? All delicious.

However it seems almost criminal not to make my own when we have such an abundance of fresh fruit available here, and I've been saving nice jars, so fingers crossed this batch is good.

Friday, January 20, 2012

What's growing in the garden?

Not much, to be honest. However, a lot changes in eight days! When I returned from my work trip on Wednesday, a bunch of carrots were ready to harvest, the snow peas had grown like crazy and fallen over in the wind, two of the lettuces had turned into small trees, there's an abundance of rhubarb (time to make some of my favourite kind of jam), the coriander had bolted and gone to seed, the arugula has flowers, the tomatoes are doing okay... but my lack of planning means once that lot has gone, there won't be much to follow other than my successive lettuce plantings. So soon I am going to dig it all up and add plenty of compost and plan some winter crops.

Monday, January 16, 2012

The big apple

 I spent the past two days exploring parts of New York City that I haven't been to before, after three days of meetings with my team and managers at company headquarters in Connecticut. On Friday night my team had a fantastic meal at The Standard Grill. On the weekend I toured the fascinating Tenement Museum, had brunch at Freemans, walked over the Brooklyn Bridge, went to the New York Transit Museum in a disused subway station, took in the view from the Top of the Rock (Rockefeller Center), saw the works of top German and Austrian artists at the Neue Gallerie and ate in its Viennese-style Cafe Sabarsky, then marched through Central Park in the brisk -5 degree but sunny late afternoon. Oh and went shopping of course. Mainly clothes.

I love this city. Although I have chosen to move to "the country" (I suppose you'd call it that), and I absolutely love the peace it brings, I still like cities. I just do not want to live in the suburbs ever again. If I move back to a city, I swear I'll live somewhere smack bang in the middle of it. Where I don't need a car and have everything on my doorstep. Just like here in NYC.

As well as doing my normal job this week, I have been voluntary tourism ambassador for Tasmania, telling everyone about the gourmet and wilderness paradise that it is. What I discovered is that the only thing many people know of the place is Taz the Tasmanian Devil from the Warner Bros. Looney Tunes cartoons. Some of those believe that it's a fictitious cartoon beast and not a real live (albeit increasingly threatened) animal.

Tomorrow the 30 hour trip home begins. I'm starting to look forward to some fresh Tassie air.

Brunch at Freemans
Walking over Brooklyn Bridge
An old subway carriage in the New York Transit Museum
Lovely old brownstones in Brooklyn Heights
Manhattan from Brooklyn Bridge
Sparrows warming themselves in the sun (it was -8 degrees)
Manhattan skyline from the Top of the Rock
Viennese-style lunch at the Neue Gallerie
Late afternoon sun in Central Park

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Little fruit trees

The apple and pear trees planted as bare root stock in July seem to be doing okay so far. Hopefully they will do more growing over the next few summer months. The Huonville Crab is the prettiest by far, with beautiful burgundy coloured leaves, but only the Berner Rose and the Cox's Orange Pippin are bearing any fruit.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Rescue dogs

This beautiful dog belongs to Wendy from our local seafood restaurant and fish and chips takeaway, Aqua Grill. Isn't she sweet? She was adopted a year ago as a rescue dog and is a little timid - not keen on people wearing black apparently, and a bit frightened of feet. But once you win her trust, she just wants chin tickles and ear scratches like any other pup. How on earth could people mistreat an animal like this?

Last month we also had the great pleasure of meeting Tippy Latte, another gorgeous rescue dog, at the home of Rhondda, owner of Star Anise beauty therapy in Huonville. She was also a little nervous of all the people at the Christmas barbeque, but when you weren't looking, she would quickly sneak up and lick your elbow! Such a cute dog.

If you want your heart melted with more photos of beautiful rescue dogs available for adoption in Tasmania, take a look at the blog A Thing For Sewing. Melinda volunteers for Dogs' Homes of Tasmania and helps to find new owners for so many lovely dogs. Or sign up to the Brightside Farm Sanctuary page on Facebook and read more about the great work they do. I hope many more dogs found happy new homes this Christmas.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Camp Coningham

Not far off the Channel Highway about 30 minutes south of Hobart lies the little 70s time warp seaside township of Coningham. You'll see the turnoff after passing through Snug. On the weekend, a friend hired the former Mission Afloat church camp (now called Montgomery Park) for her weekend of 40th birthday celebrations. Cocktails and dinner around the fire outside were followed by partying indoors. Almost everyone stayed the night, either in the dorm rooms with bunk beds or a tent pitched outside. Such a great idea. Many of the guests were from interstate, some brought kids or dogs, some brought games, locals pitched in with catering, everyone helped to clean up afterwards.

In the morning, I managed to squeeze in a short stroll to Little Coningham Beach, which has excellent views of Cathedral Rock and Mount Wellington, then along the clifftop path heading south before the rain set in. I'd like to go back to do more walking in the bushland recreation area nearby.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012


In yesterday's post came a birthday card from my Nan in the UK.

Earlier in the morning my Dad had called to say she had died. Sometimes living so far away sucks.

It was more than eight years ago that I last saw my Nan. The lovely photos taken at her 90th birthday a few months ago made me wish it was more often, but still I feel lucky to have been able to spend lots of time with her as a child. Thanks to my Dad's job with an airline, we were able to travel to England regularly and see our family. I am thinking of Dad, his brother and sisters and all my cousins today.

A few of the memories I have of my dear Nan:
  • The smell of toast cooking under a gas grill (and putting coins in the gas meter under the stairs)
  • Her love of word puzzles 
  • Riding the double decker bus to Staines 
  • Wading in the stream near Nan's home in gumboots with a fishing net
  • Buying special treats (like chocolate mint sticks) at Marks and Spencer
  • While staying with her one cold January, she told all the shopkeepers that it would snow tomorrow, so her granddaughter from Australia could see it. And it did
  • Nan riding to work on a yellow moped... not sure, but I think she was about 60 then
  • The letters she wrote on blue aerogramme paper. I still have them
  • Nan cooing over my baby cousin Joseph (Jojo) as he lay on the lounge room floor. He's now a grown man
  • Playing housie at the local club with her friends
  • The tune that Nan hummed. When we asked, she didn't know what song it was
  • Nan's visits to stay with us in Sydney. She loved the sun and warm weather and it did her good
  • The hug at Heathrow airport when she didn't want to let go for fear we would not see each other again

RIP Daisy. xxx

Monday, January 2, 2012


Yes, we've been to the Cane's orchard in Franklin again. They sell fantastic stone fruit direct to the public from the top of their steep driveway. They even do a 'mixed box' of peaches and nectarines. Now I'm looking forward to a box of their apricots. I enjoyed them so much last year.